Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well! Im going to go back a little bit and talk about my wonderful Sukkot Holiday!
For those of you who don’t know Sukkot is a holiday that is a week long. A sukkah is a temporary house or dwelling outside that must have 3 walls. These temporary dwellings that are built are made as a reminder of the time we had temporary dwellings when we wondered in the dessert for 40 years, after being freed as slaves from Egypt.
For the first night of Sukkot, David and Miri invited me and Rachel to join them and spend the night at their house. David brought us over to his house in the afternoon and Rachel and I were able to help finish decorating the sukkah by cutting down branches and other pieces of nature and hanging them inside the sukkah.
Later that night Miri led Sukkot services in the park. It was a beautiful service under the stars. After services, we headed back to our lovely sukkah and had dinner in it. We had delicious fajitas! After dinner, David and I sat down to watch some baseball! David is extremely involved with baseball here in Israel. He has gotten Israel Into the world baseball series (I think that is right) and his son is the #1 baseball player in Israel! Finally, after food and baseball I went to bed. The next morning, since we spent the night there, Miri made a wonderful breakfast of French toast made from the homemade hallah she had baked the day before. I don’t know if I have ever had better French toast. Overall, we had a wonderful time with David and Miri. They are the most welcoming and gracious of hosts and the kindest people.
The main part of my Sukkot break was taking a cruise to Greece!! Now, anyone who has ever taken a cruise before on Carnival or any other cruise line, please erase those memories for our boat was nothing, and I mean nothing, like it!! Imagine a big boat with floors for the guests that have the rooms on it. On these floors with the rooms all over there will be a random room that is the gym (which had 4 machines in it) or a children’s play room (forget about sleeping) or a movie theater. There we’re only 6 levels total. The dining room was not a nice sit down place either. It was a buffet. Imagine hundreds of hungry Israelis who are already pushy trying to get their food from the tiny buffet! It was madness. The boat had no fancy shows or waterslides. No full schedule of activites (although there were a few activities here and there) and no food available 24/7 (you could only eat at the specific dining times). Nonetheless, our group of 14 Israel Teaching Fellows managed to have a blast!
This was a 5 day cruise to the Greek islands Rhodes and Samos. Rhodes was the first place we docked. We docked around 5 o’clock so our group ventured out to have our first meal in Greece! We found a restaurant that was practically begging for us to come eat there. (Greece is in a major economical crisis and tourism is their main business. Hence why they would love to have 14 tourist come eat!) Our meal was phenomenal! I have never had better gyro or tstasiky sauce in my life. It was unbelievable. After dinner we ventured out to find a bar to have a fun first evening in Greece.
On our second day we took some taxis to Lindos. This was a beautiful place to take pictures overlooking the insanely blue water and beautiful beaches. I might move to Greece one day, it is just so beautifully.
Later that day, Rachel Feldman, Suzanne and I were wondering around the area next to the dock and stumbled about the Jewish quarters. Rhodes was once home to thousands of Jewish people, until the influence of Nazi Germany came to Greece. Now, only 37 Jews live on Rhodes. Greece still has a negative image of Israel and we were warned before getting off the boat to not talk about being from Israel.
The rest of my day wad filled with some great Greek shopping that included a pair of handmade leather shoes and more amazing gyros!
The next morning our boat docked in Samos. On this day in Greece their was a national protest going on. The people were protesting the unfair raise in taxes and as a result many businesses were closed. Although things were closed, we were able to go to the protest! Sadly, it was all in Greek! Nonetheless, it was great to experience what was truly going on in Greece.
The rest of the day was spent venturing around the island. We went on a short hike and also walked to a beach where a few people went swimming in the freezing cold water.
Overall, Greece was absolutely amazing. I wish I could have spent more time there. I recommend that everyone goes to Greece.
I’ll try to post again soon about how school is going! Xoxo
I clearly am very very behind on blogging. I must fill you in on Yom Kippur, Sukkot (which includes my trip to Greece) and how school is going. In order to not overwhelm myself I am going to take it one topic at a time, starting with Yom Kippur.
For those of you who don’t know, Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. On this day, the Jewish people fast and pray for forgiveness from G-d.
For Yom Kippur me and 4 other Ramla volunteers were invited to Kibbutz Gezer to spend the holiday with David and Miri. The night before fasting began I had a wonderful dinner with Max and Julia. We had pasta, pita and hummus, hallah and delicious baklavah for dessert.
After dinner we decided to go for a walk around Ramla. In Israel, on Yom Kippur no one drives their cars, not even the Arabic population— out of respect for Israel and the holiday. In additon, EVERYTHING is closed . It is a day when the streets are clear of cars but full of playing children. On our walk around Ramla we saw, most likely, every child out playing and riding their bikes or scooters in the streets!
The next morning, the 5 of us made the 10K walk to the kibbutz. It was a hot day as we all walked down the deserted highway to the kibbutz. Don’t worry— we all drank water so we wouldnt get dehydrated. We decided that drinking water was acceptable since we were walking in order to go to services. I still cannot get over how there are no cars on Yom Kippur. It still amazes me how respected the holiday is.
Once at kibbutz Gezer I went to services, which are lead by Miri. (she is the rabbi on the kibbutz). I spent the majority of my day in services, which helped to keep my mind off my hunger.
When it was finally time to break fast, we had a phenomenal dinner!! I don’t think I have ever eaten a bad thing at David and Miri’s. It was a large break fast— about 20 people. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful time filled with wonderful people.
I’ll try to post again soon about my other adventures!
This past week has been incredibly busy and wonderful!
On Monday we finally began Ulpan!! We have Ulpan for 4 hours a day. Our Ulpan is intensive; we are learning much more in one day than you normally would learn. I am happy to be learning more Hebrew but it is definitely a challenge. On Monday night, I was at the bus station with my roommates. While waiting for our bus (which was super late as usual) we were practicing our Hebrew. They’re was an Israeli gentleman sitting next to us, so I said excuse me to him and starting asking him the questions we learned that day. He was laughing at us the whole time but it was great practice!
Wednesday night was the first night of Rosh Hashana. Rachel and I went with one of our host families. Merave and her family are so incredibly nice and welcoming. We were with Merave’s husbands family. We said the prayers over the wine, bread, apples and pomegranate before digging in! (in israel pomegranate is a emblem of rosh hashana, just like the apples and honey) Our dinner was fantastic! We had chicken, beef, cous cous, vegetables, hallah, hummus and much more! I was stuffed!
On Thursday morning I went to kibbutz Gezer for Rosh Hashana services. 7 volunteers from Ramla went to these services. At kibbutz Gezer we know David and Miri, who are a wonderful couple who invite us to the kibbutz and are willing to help us out with whatever we need. Miri is the rabbi of the temple on Gezer. We had great Rosh Hashana services.
I realized that in the states, Rosh Hashana services are increibly long and there is so much more in-between each prayer. When I thought about this I realized its because in Israel, everyone speaks Hebrew and therefore knows exactly what each prayer says. Here, you dont need to talk about each prayer in depth, because they already know what they are saying. I really wish I had learned hebrew so I could understand what I have been reading all these years.
After services, I went to David and miri’s for lunch with Rachel and Jordi. We had leftovers from the night before. Even leftover the food was amazing!! David also makes his own ice cream. I don’t think I have ever had better ice cream in my life!
Later that night Rachel and I went to dinner with another host family! Amir and his family were so kind, and again we had amazing food! I don’t know how i was able to eat anymore, especially after lunch with David and Miri. My new favorite dish is mat-boocha. Amir said it takes 4 hours to make, and it was, of course, homemade! Everything is always homemade!!
I know I have only been in Israel for 1 month, but I feel like I have grown so much since I have been here. It’s funny, right when I graduated I felt so mature and grown up. But looking back just those few months I feel like I have grown so much more. I think traveling and experiencing new cultures really opens your eyes.
I’ll try to blog again soon! Xoxo
I am sorry for neglecting my blog!
I left off saying that I was about to begin classes at the college in Tel Aviv called Seminar Hakibbutzim. Our day of classes are from 10am-6pm. The morning lectures are not my favorite part of the day. In the afternoon there are small group classes with our madrichot (teacher),Rutie. Ruthie is absolutely amazing. She is passionate about education and makes our time with her fun and worth while.
One great thing about coming to classes is that I have been able to meet other Israel Teaching fellows. There are ITFs in Rishon, Rehovot, Netanya, and Petah Tikva. Our classes are the only time scheduled for the next 10 months where all of us will be together. We have all exchanged number and found each other on Facebook so we can be sure to see each other during the rest of our time in Israel.
My weekends so far have been pretty simple but fun. I’ve spent at least one day each weekend at the beach. I absolutely love how easy it is to get to the beach! The beach in Tel Aviv and Rishon are absolutely beautiful. Although, I have found the beach in Rishon has less trash everywhere.
Last Friday I spent Shabbat on a kibbutz called Kibbutz Gezer. A small group of us from Ramla went to the kibbutz. We participated in wonderful Shabbat service, filled with music and guitars, tons of singing and familiar tunes. It felt like a combination of my synagogue at home and services at camp chi.
After services, Max Suzanne and I went to Gingy’s house. He was a kind man who invited us for Shabbat dinner. We had a great dinner with him, his wife and his 2 sons! After dinner we headed back to David and miri’s house (they are the people who invited us to the kibbutz in the first place). We had a great song session and ate David’s homemade ice cream!! It was a fantastic Shabbat.
A normal part of living in Israel is shopping, especially at the Shuk. Since we have been here for 3 weeks, we are more familiar with the shuk and where to get the best and cheapest food. The other day I even managed to get a bag of free pitas! ( I was disagreeing on the price so he just gestured for me to take it for free!) I absolutely love the fresh pita, delicious hummus and olives. My diet since I have been here mainly consists of these items, plus fresh cucumber, peppers and tomatoes. Mmmm delicious (Kelsey— say this in the David voice)
Today is Julia’s birthday! Julia is one of my 3 roommates. We are planning on going out to Tel Aviv to celebrate. On Monday, we FINALLY begin Ulpan (Hebrew lessons)! I have learned a few useful phrases in Hebrew (thanks Max) and I cannot wait to learn more! I will not begin teaching in a classroom until October 23— after Sukkot. I am hoping to take a trip to another country during our week long Sukkot break!
I’ll try to write again in the near future!
If anyone wants to skype feel free to let me know a time. My skype name is lauren.glen.22
Crowds at Kikar Hamedina in Tel Aviv chant “ha’am doresh tzedek chevarti,” or “the people demand social justice.”
This is the sounds of the protest! (thanks Julia!!)0 plays
Me, Julia, Suzanne and Rachel in the waterfall in the Ein Gedi!
Wow, tons and tons to blog about!
Thursday- the Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea!
Thursday we took our first Oranim trip! We were picked up very early by our bus and headed out to the Ein Gedi which is in the Negev. The Ein Gedi We went on a very short hike to a beautiful little waterfall (although it didn’t compare to those I saw in thailand). We all took a short swim and then went to hike a bit more. After our hike we went to the Dead Sea.
Now, for those of you who don’t know the dead sea is the lowest point on earth. It is 421m below sea level! Also, The Dead Sea has 35% salinity, compare this to most oceans which are .3% salinity. In addition, the dead sea is losing 4feet of water per year! As you can imagine, going in the dead sea with any cuts is very painful! Luckily, I had no major cuts and was able to enjoy my time in the water. I even did a sea salt scrub with the Salt from the sea floor! Needless to say, my skin was very soft afterwards!
Friday- Israel vs Greece soccer game (kinda)
On friday shmone (eight) of us hopped in a sheriut (shared taxi) and went to tel aviv, where we then took a bus to Jaffa. Our plan was very last minute and we didn’t have tickets for the game. When we arrived at Bloomfield stadium it was a madhouse! We looked for tickets and found that there were none for sale. Scalpers were selling tickets, but for a very inflated price (about 200 shekels a price). As a group, we decided it wasn’t worth it and headed to a Bar to watch the game instead. When we got to the bar I realized that a guy sitting in there looked very familiar. As I walked closer I realized it was my friend Dave from high school! I hadn’t seen him in years and all of a sudden we are in the same bar in tel aviv at the same time! We spent some time catching up and I learned he joined the IDF for the next year and a half. We exchanged numbers and plan on hanging out again! After watching the game (more like talking through the game) we walked over to the beach to take some sunset pictures. Then finally headed back to Ramla.
Saturday- Beach and Protest!!
Naturally since it’s Shabbat and there is not much to do, we went to the beach!
After the beach we headed to the Tent Protest. Israelis are protesting unfair living expenses. Many Israelis sold their houses and are living in tents as part of this protest. It was such a happy protest! Lots of music playing with full bands (I saw a tuba, trombone, drums and a guitar!) and people saying chants for what they wanted in Hebrew! 400,000 came out for this protest. That may not seem like a lot but for such a small country this is HUGE!
After the protest we needed to head back to Ramla, which proved not to be an easy task. The 10 of us headed to the train station which was taking us to Lod, our neighboring town. After waiting a while, the train finally came. Unfortunately, the trains next stop was its last. We had to get off and wait for the next train! This took at least 20 minutes. After finally getting to Lod we had to wait for a sheriut back to Ramla. All the Sheriuts had filled up before we got to them, so we had to wait for one to go to Ramla and then come back for us! Eventually we made it home and I passed out for the night!
Sunday- the start of classes!
Today we had our first day of classes. We left at 730 so we could take 2 busses into tel aviv to our university. We arrived at University around 9:45. Public transportation is great but takes for ever! Today was a basic day of introductions and a few introductory classes. The best part was meeting other Israel Teaching fellows who are living in other cities in israel! We have 3 weeks of intensive classes (10am- 6pm four days a week) before we start Ulpan (Hebrew class) and teaching. I hope to learn a lot in this time!
Until next time! Xoxo
Lazy, testing.0 plays
From left to right- me, Rachel, Suzanne, and Nir after grocery shopping.
I made it safe and sound to Israel! My flight went smoothly and I was able to make friends with the guys sitting next to me. We bonded over playing Cut The Rope on my iPad :)
Once off the plane it was super easy and stress free to find my ride to Ramla. My driver and I arrived to my apartment before my city coordinator Nir, so my driver bought me coffee while we waited. That was a much needed coffee too!!
Once in my apartment I was able to meet my three wonderful roommates: Suzanne, Julia and Rachel. After we all arrived Nir took us to the supermarket to buy groceries and other needed items.
Normally, going to the store is not adventuresome, but not for us! Nir left to attend to some other business therefore leaving four anglet (Hebrew for English— say the a like ah and with a hard e) speaking girls with all hebrew products! We found a very nice woman who spoke some anglet to help us find butter and yogurt. Our time with her was filled with a lot of laughing when we still could not understand her.
After the grocery store we ventured out to find me a SIM card for my phone and to find the shuk (street market). Getting my sim card was interesting since the woman at the Orange store did not speak anglet! Nonetheless I now have a working Israeli cellphone!
After much walking back and forth we finally found the shuk. I think we walked passed it at least three times! I love how at the shuk there is such wonderful frresh food! I bought some grapes and pita bread ( the pitas were still warm in the bag!)
After the shuk we had an orientation meeting. Nothing too exciting to share about that. Afterwards the 7 of us who actually made it to Israel came back to my apartment. We made dinner and hung out. It was great getting to know everyone. (sidenote: the other 10 participants are stuck in the states until later this week due to a lovely lady named Irene)
Today we have a small Hebrew lesson, a lesson on Israeli culture and are meeting Ofer, the head of our program. Later tonight some other Oranim program participants who have been here for a while are throwing us a welcome party!
I’ll try to blog again soon. Sorry this is so long!